Art in Headington

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The Shark, 2 New High Street (1986)

Headington Shark

The Headington Shark is the most famous piece of public art in Headington. It was erected by local radio presenter Bill Heine on the roof of 2 New High Street in the early hours of Saturday 9 August 1986. the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Heine said:

The shark was to express someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger and desperation…. It is saying something about CND, nuclear power, Chernobyl and Nagasaki.

It was sculpted by John Buckley, and is made of fibreglass and weights four hundredweight. It has no head, and is 25 feet long. There was a long planning battle about it, with Enforcement Order 86/01286/E served (unsuccessfully) in November 1986 for its removal. The Shark was described by Bernard Levin of The Times as “delightful, innocent, fresh and amusing — all qualities abhorred by such committees”.

On 26 August 2016 Bill Heine's son Magnus Hanson-Heine bought the Shark House, and explains here in the Guardian of 12 March 2017 why he did so.

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© Stephanie Jenkins


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